Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
Sept. 21, 2013 (WEEK 30, MLS Game #273)
4 p.m. ET (SNet 360; KSMO)

Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City clash for a third time this season when the Eastern Conference clubs meet at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon. TFC were officially eliminated from playoff consideration last weekend, dropping a 2-0 decision at the New York Red Bulls. Sporting come into the match three points out of the top spot in the East, returning to league action off a 3-0 home win against the Columbus Crew two weeks ago.


REFEREE: Allen Chapman. AR1 (bench): Daniel Belleau; AR2 (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
MLS Career: 31 games; FC/gm: 21.1; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 5; pens: 7

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Gale Agbossoumonde, Justin Braun, Steven Caldwell, Matias Laba … KC: Claudio Bieler, Oriol Rosell, Seth Sinovic
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Richard Eckersley, Darel Russell, Reggie Lambe, Bobby Convey, Jeremy Hall … KC: Lawrence Olum, Benny Feilhaber, Aurelien Collin, Paulo Nagamura, Chance Myers

ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Toronto FC 4 wins, 12 goals … Sporting 9 wins, 23 goals … Ties 4
AT TORONTO (8 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 5 goals … Sporting 2 wins, 3 goals … Ties 3

2013 (MLS)
3/9: TOR 2, KC 1 (Earnshaw 3, 21 – Bieler 77)
7/13: KC 3, TOR 0 (

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, each winning once. Soony Saad scored a pair of goals in a 3-0 Sporting win, July 13 in Kansas City; Robert Earnshaw scored a pair of first-half goals to lead Toronto FC to a 2-1 victory March 9 at BMO Field.
  • Toronto FC had not won in the series since a 1-0 win April 26, 2009 at BMO Field before their victory in the first meeting this year. SKC had a seven-game undefeated streak in between.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. TOR: P9 W6 L1 D2 … Ryan Nelsen vs. KC: P2 W1 L1 D0


  • Sporting opened the lead in the 21st minute. Seth Sinovic sent in a short pass from the left flank, and Soony Saad settled it just outside the area and fired past Joe Bendik into the lower left corner.
  • Sporting, and Saad, made it 2-0 in the 51st minute. Graham Zusi's shot from distance was parried by goalkeeper Bendik, the ball rolling past Bieler to an onrushing Saad, who buried it from the edge of the 6-yard box.
  • Toronto FC went a man down in the 56th minute when defender Reggie Lambe was shown a straight red card after chopping down Saad in the open field.
  • Sporting went up 3-0 in the 63rd minute, on a sequence started by Saad's run and through ball to Kei Kamara. Kamara one-timed the ball to Benny Feilhaber, who pushed it out to Claudio Bieler with the right side of his foot for a tap-in from point-blank range.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Graham Zusi (Teal Bunbury 85), Benny Feilhaber - Kei Kamara, Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 71), Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 81).
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Ryan Richter (Jeremy Hall 46), Steven Caldwell, Gale Agbossoumonde, Richard Eckersley - Reggie Lambe (ejected 56), Darel Russell, Matias Laba (Michael Thomas 78), Bobby Convey - Jeremy Brockie, Robert Earnshaw (Justin Braun 60).

Toronto FC saw their winless streak stretched to seven games, falling 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. TFC sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 29 matches.


  • The Red Bulls netted the opener in the 32nd minute. Receiving a penetrating pass in behind the Toronto defense, Dax McCarty unleashed a low cross to the far post that Thierry Henry tapped in from close range.
  • New York put the game away ten minutes from time. From a restart on the right, the ball ended up on the right side of the goal where Fabian Espindola was able to find the back of the net with an impressive header from what looked like an impossible angle.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at BMO Field. Mark Bloom and Gale Agbossoumonde came into the back four for Richard Eckersley and the suspended Doneil Henry, and Justin Braun replaced the injured Robert Earnshaw up top.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Steven Caldwell, Gale Agbossoumonde, Ashtone Morgan - Alvaro Rey (Kyle Bekker 88), Jonathan Osorio, Jeremy Hall, Bobby Convey - Justin Braun (Jonas Elmer 53), Andrew Wiedeman (Bright Dike 75).


  • Toronto FC saw their winless streak extended to seven games, their second-longest this season. They went 11 league games without a win from March 16 to June 1.
  • “It was a couple of soft goals, but the first half performance was extremely good,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “We created a lot of chances and put ourselves in a position to score, but the difference between us and them is obvious with a guy like [Thierry] Henry and his quality up front. It was hard situation for the guys – being on the road, playing their third game in a short period of time and with New York desperate for that win to go top of the table.”
  • TFC was also shut out at the attacking end for a second consecutive road match, and have now gone 209 minutes without a goal on their travels.
  • “To tell you the truth, this is possibly the absolute best position Toronto has ever been in. Next year, trust me, when you walk out there they’ll be a couple of (Designated Players) they’ll be a lot of our players that will be playing in the same organization,” Nelsen said. “… We play against these teams with better opportunities every single week.”
  • After scoring his first goal in nearly three months in the Chicago match, Robert Earnshaw was unable to make the trip to face New York, suffering a hamstring strain in scoring the goal.
  • Justin Braun made his first start since July 27, partnering Andrew Wiedeman in attack. He had come on as a substitute in the last two matches.
  • “Our first half performance was incredibly good, they moved around well, passed it so well, created the opportunities but again we couldn’t finish them. That’s the difference,”  Nelsen said.
  • Mark Bloom made his MLS and TFC debut, coming in at right back and playing the full 90 minutes.
  • “I thought Mark was brilliant today; really, really good performance. He’s one of the highlights… Him and Jeremy Hall were fantastic,” said Nelsen. “Jeremy just controlled that midfield and it wasn’t until the last 10 minutes, when were down 2-0 and we had to open the game up, but besides that he was brilliant as well.”

Sporting Kansas City return to action after a week off, their last match their second in a row, a 3-0 defeat of the Columbus Crew on Sept. 6 at Sporting Park. Sporting are in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 45 points from 28 matches.


  • Sporting had the lead after just the seventh minute. SKC's Benny Feilhaber made a run into the area and was tripped up by Wil Trapp, and referee Jose Carlos Rivero wasted no time before pointing to the spot. Claudio Bieler buried the resulting spot kick just inside the right post.
  • In the 41st minute, it was Bieler's turn to provide the setup. He played the ball wide to Soony Saad on the left side of the penalty area, and Saad rounded a defender before putting his shot inside the far post.
  • C.J. Sapong put the exclamation point on the victory in the 55th minute when he rose up over Crew defender Tyson Wahl near the penalty spot and headed home Oriol Rosell's long diagonal ball.
  • KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen stopped Jairo Arrieta's shot the 78th minute for his only save of the night.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at Sporting Park. Josh Gardner and Ike Opara came into the back four for Chance Myers and Matt Besler, and C.J. Sapong and Claudio Bieler started up top for Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Josh Gardner, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Jimmy Medranda 90) - C.J. Sapong, Claudio Bieler (Teal Bunbury 76), Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 64).


  • Sporting have won back-to-back games in league play for the first time since July 7-20, when they won three games in a row, matching their season-long winning streak.
  • Returning to the lineup after a two-match absence, Claudio Bieler scored his first goal since July 13, converting a penalty kick. Three of his goals have come from the penalty spot, among his team-leading 10 goals in league play. Bieler also set up a goal, his first assist since July 20.
  • “I thought he just played really well tonight,” Vermes said. “His play between the lines was excellent. He was laying off balls, holding the ball for us and he was very busy making sure that they were not comfortable with the ball in the back. That is the kind of play that we want, and when he brings that he is an extremely valuable player for us.”
  • With Matt Besler away on international duty, Ike Opara made his first MLS start since July 27, coming into central defense. With Chance Myers injured, Josh Gardner made his league start since May 8.
  • “We have an incredible amount of confidence in our entire roster and you were able to see that on the field today,” Vermes said. “With players like Jimmy Medranda, who is 19 years old, it is evident that we have a lot of guys that are competing to make it out on the field. If you look at the players that we had out for the national team, and Chance Myers being out injured, it says a lot about the group of guys that we have on our team.”
  • Said Opara: “I think everybody on this team is prideful. Whoever steps on the field wants to do well. Our organization has done a great job bringing in good players from 1-30 on the roster. Everybody has come in at some point and done well and tonight that shows again.”
  • Dom Dwyer was not available after returning on loan to Orlando City SC for the USL PRO championship match – where he scored four goals and added an assist.
  • C.J. Sapong scored his first goal since May 5, making his second start after returning from a loan stint, also with Orlando City SC.
  • “Last year around this time is when I went on a run, and it was the same kind of deal,” said Sapong. “I'd just come off of injury, and for me that was my first time having to sit out games because of injury, so that was another thing I had to deal with at that moment in time.”
  • Soony Saad also scored his first goal since netting three in two games July 13-20. “We have a lot of guys who can step in and fill in when they need to be called. I think it was really good to get three different players on the scoresheet. It was a great performance defensively and I think it was a really convincing victory,” Saad said.
  • On Tuesday, Sporting remained undefeated in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 1-1 home draw with Real Estelí of Nicaragua. Jacob Peterson scored the tying goal in the 78th minute. Sporting have seven points from three matches to sit atop Group 2.
  • Here’s the SKC team: Eric Kronberg; Seth Sinovic, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Josh Gardner; Oriol Rosell, Peterson Joseph (C.J. Sapong 46), Benny Feilhaber; Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 75), Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 62), Graham Zusi

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